Friday, June 28, 2019

Bayer/Monsanto trying to fix damaged image

Maker of Roundup herbicide planning to spend $5.6 billion on research to find a new weed-killer

Despite, or maybe because of, facing more than 5,000 lawsuits over its Roundup herbicide causing cancer, Bayer AG plans to spend $5.6 billion on researching a new weed-killer.

Bayer, parent company of agribusiness Monsanto, which recently lost three court cases that found the glyphosate-based weed-killer caused cancer, is desperately trying to wipe the tarnish from its image.

All three court cases are being appealed.

According to a recent story by Rachel Siegel in The Washington Post, though Bayer still insists that glyphosate is safe, it announced it's not only investing that $5.6 billion but it's pledging "to reduce the company's environmental footprint by 30 percent through 2030."

That promise, Siegel's story says, "signaled a change in tone for Bayer. On its website, along with a full-page ad in [the] Post, Bayer said, 'We listened. We learned.'"

The vow reportedly also added the following phrases: "As a new leader in agriculture, Bayer has a heightened responsibility and the unique potential to advance farming for the benefit of society and the planet. We are committed to living up to this responsibility."

Ken Cook
Siegel's piece, however, quoted Ken Cook, president and co-founder of the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, as saying that "if Bayer is serious about reforming its products, it has to commit to a fundamentally new paradigm for pesticides, which must start with a simple principal: This class of chemicals should not end up in people."

EWG last week published a report, the Post story asserts, that Roundup has "been detected in 21 oat-based cereals and snack products tested by the organization."

Siegel apparently believes Monsanto/Bayer "underestimated the reputational damage" that stemmed from the losing lawsuits "and how they damaged the company's public perception."

The Post also quotes Anthony Johndrow, an expert on how corporations manage crises, to the effect that Bayer is making its decisions more transparent and "is sincerely making a change."

Bayer, he indicates, knew what they were getting when they bought Monsanto last June: "This is their going forward, whether they like it or not."

When a jury recently awarded $2 billion to a Livermore couple who blamed Roundup for their non-Hodgkins lymphoma diagnoses, the verdict added to Bayer's steep stock descent to its lowest level in seven years, erasing more than 40 percent of its market value.

To read about more court cases involving manufacturers sued because their products caused disease, check out "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

No comments:

Post a Comment